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Review: Made for the Journey by Elisabeth Elliot

As a young woman, Elisabeth Elliot worked hard to prepare for her first missionary experience, learning and reducing to writing the Colorado’s language in the jungles of Ecuador.  Because she was doing what God called her to do, she fully expected God’s blessing on her work.  After all, that’s the way the world works, right?

But in Made for the Journey (formerly titled These Strange Ashes) the young Elisabeth Elliot discovers that God’s ways, even when we are obeying him, are often not what we expect.  God’s ways are so much higher than ours, so incomprehensible that they often make no sense to us. In the ultimate example, Jesus’ death was folly to the Gentiles, a stumbling block to Jews, and still is utter foolishness to unbelievers, and yet it was God’s wisdom. As Elisabeth learned, we humans need to learn to let go of our expectations of how the God of the universe will act.

Made for the Journey:  One Missionary’s First Year in the Jungles of Ecuador is, in essence, a moving and detailed account of confronting this lesson.  Elisabeth, eager and enthusiastic, heads out to meet the Colorado tribe, along the way telling us colorful stories and giving her impressions.  When she eventually finds someone who is willing to ‘give her words’ and help her record the language, she discovers, to her chagrin, that she would rather be doing housework.  She deftly tells of jungle creatures, getting lost, and roller coaster horse rides through the night.  As a travel account, this story is superb, but it is so much more.  As Elisabeth recounts tragedy after tragedy, she struggles with the fact that God does not act the way she confidently expected him to.  In both her life and the book, a small strand of romance relieves the anguish somewhat, but true comfort comes in the conclusion:

God makes no mistakes. He does not fall asleep. He does not forget His loved children.  He asks us, every day, no matter what circumstances or adversities we find ourselves in, to trust and obey.  He has so arranged things that we may not often fathom His sovereign purposes, but now and then He vouchsafes to us a glimpse of what He is up to.  (P 164)

As Kay Warren wrote in the Foreword and as many others, myself included, have found, one of the things He was up to in Elisabeth’s challenges was preparing a teacher who would show us our God.  “May her experiences—and her confident conclusion—strengthen you for your journey….”

All of us Christian parents are on a journey, pouring our lives into our children, trying to do God’s work in God’s way, fully expecting his blessing in a way that makes sense to us.  But at times children walk away from God.  What then? Elisabeth’s conclusion applies to us, too:

We should not be surprised at the mysterious ways in which our loving Father works all things together for good.  We need to go back again and again to God’s guidebook, the Bible.  It’s all spelled out there….

The apostle Peter wrote, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1Pet. 4: 12-13).

May God bless us all, giving us what we need to be able to trust and obey him in all circumstances.  Made for the Journey is one of the ways he is equipping me for this.

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Disclosure: This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. and is available at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

This may be linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook  as well as to Inspire Me Monday, Raising Homemakers, Friendship Friday, Make My Saturday Sweet.

2 Comments

  1. Laraba says:

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I will confess I had lost track of your blog but now I have found it again :-).

    I love Elisabeth Elliott and will look for this book. She is (was?) an inspiring, amazing woman. I can’t remember if she died recently or not.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Yes, it is good to connect again!

      Elisabeth Elliot died a while ago, but her inspiration and writings live on. I am very grateful for her; she has influenced me enormously over the years.

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